Strangers of Braamfontein (eng.)

Heartbroken and essentially alone in the world, Osas puts what little he has into ascertaining the papers that will permit him to enter Johannesburg, South Africa, from his homeland of Nigeria, only to learn that life has dealt him another blow. With no other prospects, he befriends a fellow countryman, and a known criminal who quickly sees in Osas a young man hungry and wily enough to sell drugs and run street hustles. Chamai has come to South Africa from Zimbabwe to further his education, but when his financial resources dry up, he turns to sex work to make enough money to eat. In The Strangers of Braamfontein, Onyeka Nwelue pits the aspirations of those always striving for more against the harsh realities of the immigrant experience.

"A perceptive and vigorous tale of people trapped in dire circumstances."

Onyeka Nwelue is an author and filmmaker who has published multiple award-winning books. His first book, The Abyssinian Boy, won the TM Aluko Aluko Prize for First Book of Fiction and Ibrahim Tahir Prize, while his book Hip-Hop is Only for Children won the Creative Non-Fiction Book of the Year at the 2015 Nigerian Writers’ Awards. His second novel, The Beginning of Everything Colourful, was shortlisted for the ANA Prose Fiction Prize in 2018, and his collection of poetry, The Lagos Cuban Jazz Club, was shortlisted for ANA Poetry Prize in the same year. He adapted his novella Island of Happiness into an Igbo-language film, Agwaetiti Obiụtọ, which won Best Feature Film by a Director at the 2018 Newark International Film Festival. Nwelue is a current Academic Visitor at the African Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, and he is the Founder and Director of The James Currey Prize for African Literature, administered by the Oxford-based James Currey Society.

"Nobody knows where the pink man had come from. Those who were questioned later, who’d seen him pull up outside the building where the girl lived in Johannesburg city center, weren’t even sure of the make or model of his car. The witnesses did remember him as an impressively dressed pink man, though, but with a face too ordinary and therefore too difficult to describe. One witness recalled him at the wheel of his car, glancing now and then at his wristwatch, as though he had somewhere important to be, and then looking out of the car and down the road with a nasty scowl.

And then, the girl approached the car. Her skin was so dark that she could be considered Kenyan. Her long legs bore her bony frame with elegance. She left her building the same way each day, bearing a small travel bag, and ducking into the passenger seat next to the driver of the nondescript car. They would set off immediately. It was always the same pink man behind the wheel, the witnesses recalled. Just as no one knew where the man came from, no one knew where the two of them went. It was as though they materialized before everyone then dissolved into thin air."